Russia: January 30, 2001



Russia's plan to pull most of its troops out of Chechnya is partly in recognition that it has still not been able to build a modern army. The Soviet system, relying mainly on politically reliable officers, special political officers, and few NCOs, never really worked. During World War II, an cadre of experienced NCOs developed in the heat of battle, but most of them were either demobilized or promoted to officer rank after the war. Russia has been trying to develop an NCO cadre since the 1980s, but the tumult from the demise of the Soviet Union has made this difficult. Thus the well paid volunteer soldiers in Chechnya are poorly led. Some of this is because of the difficulty in getting competent officers. Talented men find more remunerative jobs outside the military, and officers are not paid all that much. One Soviet Union institution that did have a good tradition of solid leadership in the ranks is the FSB (formerly the KGB). The FSB will take over supervision of Russian armed forces in Chechnya and use better leadership and less brute force methods to try and pacify the area. Local pro-Russian Chechen leaders have urged that they we given the resources to raise a force of 22,000 Chechens to put down the rebellion. But the Russians do not trust the Chechens, even the technically pro-Russian ones.